Bound by ethics, twisted by compassion
“… the perpetuation of an atrocity cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are … Mr. Al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It’s one that no court … could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.”
Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi is the convicted terrorist responsible for exploding a bomb on a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. 270 people were killed. His was the sole conviction in a case that paralyzed and terrified the world community. Mr. Al-Megrahi was released after serving only eight years of his life sentence. The Scottish government felt it necessary to release him on compassionate grounds. Mr. Al-Megrahi has cancer, and it was deemed appropriate to allow this man to live out the rest of his days with family, in the seclusion of his home back in Libya. Are you outraged yet? I am. I am completely baffled and incensed.
Let me unequivocally say that I believe in compassion. I believe that all of us have an inherent feeling toward righting wrongs done to our fellow man or woman, and meting out humane justice when necessary. I also believe in ethics. I believe that we should recognize certain rules of conduct and apply them for certain human actions. The society of man has moral principles and laws that should be obeyed. We need ethics to keep our society from crashing into the abyss and to prevent complete anarchy. Scotland and Great Britain, in my estimation, have made a grave error in judgment and divine presumptuousness. Here are two reasons for my opinion:
1. If Al-Megrahi’s sentence was a death sentence, it was fairly safe to assume that he would die in prison. I would imagine that there are no allowances or variations on how he should die. It could have been old age. It could have been prison food, or too much sunlight. It could have been by a crudely-made sharp object lodged into the base of his skull. Or, it could have been his cancer. His conviction on 270 counts of mass murder made his sentence what it was. Compassion aside, he deserved his fate. I do not know how Kenny MacAskill arrived at his decision. I don’t know what ordained light shined brightly in his mind, giving him the authority from on high to pardon this man. Perhaps this “sentence from a higher power,” as MacAskill put it, was God’s retribution. I am too insignificant to say, but I’m sure the victims of Al-Megrahi’s ruthlessness wished to the heavens that they had such divine intervention. Then maybe their loved ones would be alive today.
2. Speaking of the victims’ families, how must they be taking this news? Not well, I assure you. I wonder if Scottish and British authorities spoke to the families about this decision? I can’t help but wonder where the compassion was for the families and victims of this tragedy? Surely Mr. MacAskill believes proper deference should have been paid to those still reeling from losing their family. This decision, however, does not reflect that in the slightest.
This decision has sparked clear outrage throughout the world, a clear example of how cohesive and necessary our ethical code is. We must live by these rules, lest we be cast into the fiery pits of madness. Compassion should have its place, but never at the expense of our ethics, and never at the expense of a just society. Al-Megrahi should die in prison.